String of robberies in and around Ala Moana prompts safety warning as holiday shopping begins
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A manhunt is underway following a string of brazen daytime robberies in and around Ala Moana Center, prompting experts to underscore vigilance as the holiday shopping season begins.
Witnesses say the suspects appear to be teenagers and that they were armed with a machete.
Police sources confirm the crimes happened back-to-back Sunday afternoon over the span of just a few hours.
The first report came in just after 3 p.m. from inside the Makai Market Food Court at Ala Moana Center.
That’s when three high school students were allegedly held up by two other teenagers.
Law enforcement sources say the suspects threatened to stab one of the victims in the neck.
A little over an hour later, a man called police after two teens armed with a machete tried to take his fanny pack outside the Planet Fitness.
A few minutes later, a third robbery was reported near the intersection of Kona and Piikoi.
Investigators believe the same suspects carried out all three crimes.
Jackie Scott, owner of Scott Hawaii on Kona Street, said she isn’t surprised about the robberies.
She said there’s a group of kids on bikes targeting businesses, too.
“We’ve been ripped off. Our building is right down the street,” she said. “They walk right in our door and pick up a whole box of slippers and walk out.”
John McCarthy, retired HPD deputy chief, said the robberies are “crimes of opportunity.”
He said with the holidays approaching, the number of robberies, car break-ins and purse snatchings will likely rise.
“The bad guys prey on people. They don’t just walk up to any person. They pick their victims,” McCarthy said.
To protect yourself, he says you should always be aware of your surroundings.
“When you’re shopping park in well lit areas. Park in areas that are well traveled,” he said. “Walk fast, like you know what you’re doing. Look around. They don’t want to be seen. They want to catch you by surprise.”
And when it’s time to head back to your car, “pull your keys out and have them in your hand,” McCarthy said.
“You minimize that time. That vulnerability.”
He also advises against stashing shopping bags in your trunk.
“Do all of your shopping. Make one trip back to the car,” he said.
As of Monday afternoon, the suspects involved in the robberies over the weekend remain on the lose. HPD has yet to release any of their descriptions.
If you have information on these cases, you’re asked to call Honolulu CrimeStoppers.
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